Add Student Mental Health to Your College Checklist

Here's what parents and students need to know ahead of the May 1st college decision date.

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Billion Photos / Shutterstock
Billion Photos / Shutterstock

Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

As many parents and students look ahead to National College Decision Day (May 1), it has become more important than ever to choose a school that not only fits students’ academic needs but also one that prioritizes and promotes their health and well-being.

Campus counseling centers across the country are overwhelmed with demand from college students for mental health services due to increases in anxiety and depression, help-seeking, and early detection of mental health issues.

Student health too often becomes a topic of public conversation only when there’s a tragedy, such as a student suicide or school shooting. As a society, we often focus on what schools are doing wrong and where they are falling short. And when positive efforts in promoting health on campus are highlighted, the focus is often on physical health exclusively.

However, many schools are doing great work. Each school on this list has taken powerful steps forward towards supporting student mental health and been recognized for their efforts with Active Minds’ Healthy Campus Award. Additionally, these schools are JED Campuses, actively working with The Jed Foundation (JED) on enhancing mental health programs, systems, and policies on their campus.

As you are weighing the options before you, consider adding these to your list of questions for schools:

  • Is student health and well-being written into the school’s strategic plan?
  • Is the campus counseling center centrally located on campus? How easy or difficult is it to find information about mental health and other wellness services on campus?
  • Are clinical services accessible (i.e. free or low-cost services; have adequate counselor to student ratios; offer after-hours services; have a triage system in place to ensure students who need immediate assistance receive it; have formal partnerships in place with community providers, as needed, and navigation tools to help students connect with them)?
  • Does the school have a cross-department committee to address mental health and/or suicide prevention?
  • What student organizations or communities exist on campus for students struggling with their mental health?
  • What services and support exist for students who tend to be marginalized on campus (e.g. students of color, LGBTQ students, international students)?
  • What policies has the school put in place in recent years to support students’ mental health (particularly around cost and insurance)?

For many, choosing the right school can feel daunting, and families may be wondering how to best support their students with the upcoming transition. There are resources available to help in preparing for the transition out of high school and considering what school is the right fit. While no school is perfect, we hope students and families will take comfort in knowing that diverse institutions are making great strides to support student well-being.

About Active Minds

Active Minds is the nation’s premier nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for students. Through award-winning programs and services, Active Minds is empowering a new generation to change the conversation about mental health for everyone.

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and find out how to take action with Active Minds here.

About The Jed Foundation (JED)

JED is a nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults.  We’re partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse and suicide prevention programming and systems. We’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and support to grow into healthy, thriving adults; and we’re encouraging community awareness, understanding and action for young adult mental health.

Learn more at Check out our programs including: JED Campus (, Set to Go (, ULifeline (, Half of Us (,Love is Louder ( and Seize the Awkward (
Connect with JED: Email | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn

Subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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